No. 1 ASU hockey won the first two matchups against No. 13 UA earlier this season, making it 34 straight meetings in which ASU has won, dating back to 2009. No current Sun Devil player has ever lost to the Wildcats.
ASU (21-0-0) has also won 21 in a row to begin this season, the best start in program history.
Friday and Saturday feature the best chance for the Wildcats (10-10-0) to end both of ASU’s streaks as the Sun Devils will travel to Tucson short eight players.
“We are definitely going down and facing some pretty adverse environments and situations,” ASU coach Greg Powers said.
Senior forwards Danny McAuliffe and Brian McGinty, sophomore defenseman Jordan Young, freshman defenseman Alex Temby and freshman forward Sean Murphy were selected to the US Men’s National University team and will compete in Italy on Sunday. None will make the trip to Tucson.
In addition to the players in Italy, senior captain Colin Hekle, sophomore forward Kory Chisholm and freshman forward Patrick Yudez will all be scratched over the weekend with undisclosed injuries.
Powers said he looks forward to seeing some players who typically don’t get much ice time.
“Sometimes creating adversity for a team that hasn’t had to face too much of it is a good thing,” Powers said. “I’m just very excited to see these guys get the opportunity, and I have the utmost confidence that they’ll perform.”
Part of Powers’ confidence comes from the fact that the Sun Devils still have senior forward Kale Dolinski. He has been lighting up the scoresheet, leading the nation in assists (29) and is second in points (40). His 11 goals are tied with Murphy and McGinty for third on the team behind McAuliffe (12) and Hekle (15).
It hasn’t mattered all season who ASU throws between the pipes, because freshman goalie Robert Levin and senior Joe D’Elia have both been unbreakable. Levin and D’Elia are No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation in goals allowed average (0.93 and 1.11, respectively), and Levin leads the nation in save percentage (.960), while D’Elia is fourth (.950). Levin is tied for the league lead with four shutouts.
The Wildcats, going against a weakened ASU roster, will counter with a full team, including senior forward Andrew Murmes. In November, Murmes had a five-game streak in which he scored at least a goal and an assist in every game. Murmes has 30 points on the season: 15 goals and 15 assists.
Other than Murmes, no Wildcat has even 10 goals, though junior defenseman Shane Gleason has a team-high 17 assists.
In net, ASU saw freshman goaltender Dylan Hojnacki back in October. Hojnacki struggled and has only played in one game since the teams last met in Tempe. The Sun Devils will most likely face senior Steven Sisler or freshman Garrett Patrick, both of whom are having a good season. Patrick leads the team in goals allowed average (2.57) and save percentage (.910).
Puck drops Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Tucson Convention Center.
– Hockey is not included in the Territorial Cup Series, and instead plays for the Cactus Cup. It is awarded to the school that wins a majority of the eight games the schools play against each other per season. ASU currently leads 2-0. An ASU sweep in Tucson would guarantee at least a tie in the Cactus Cup.
– UA coach Sean Hogan will also be in Italy on Sunday serving as an assistant coach for Team USA.
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